The rabbi who was stabbed eight times in an anti-Semitic attack in Brighton, Mass., on July 1, has proclaimed his resolve to train and ordain at least eight new rabbis who will join the Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide network in spreading the light of Torah. Conquering darkness with light, he says, is “the only way forward.”

Establishing a rabbinic ordination (semichah) program was a longtime dream of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski ever since he’d studied in Israel as a young yeshivah student. He says that his recent encounter with hate only strengthened his resolve to make his dream a reality.

The new program will be held in Brighton’s vibrant Jewish community. It will be catered towards ambitious and scholarly yeshivah students from across the United States who are eager to become a part of Chabad’s global outreach initiatives. And it will also be open to the larger Jewish community of Brighton and anyone who wishes to engage in the years-long process of studying for rabbinic ordination, regardless of their prior Jewish education.

Major plans are underway for securing a building to serve as a beit midrash (study hall) as well as a dormitory. Though figuring out the logistics has been a tedious process, Noginski says that he is honored to be the face of this project by responding to hate with an initiative of hope and courage.

The rabbi says that responding to violence and destruction with a resolve to build new Jewish institutions is a mindset learned from the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

“If every anti-Semitic attack resulted in deafening messages of Jewish pride and courage,” says Noginski, “people would think twice before starting up with us.”

Though he is still recovering after having sustained serious injuries, he says that he’s hoping to continue his role at the Shaloh House as soon as possible. “While pain medication and physical therapy are helping me heal physically, hearing about the good deeds that Jews worldwide have taken on in my merit, gives me tremendous strength and heals me on a soul level.”

Noginski notes that he draws his inspiration from the Tanya, one of the foremost and primary works of Chabad Chassidism written by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. There, it speaks about how a small amount of light can dispel a lot of darkness. “Darkness is not something we have to fight with; when seeking to get rid of darkness, all we have to do is add light and automatically, the darkness will dissipate,” he says.

“Every person has the power to bring about tremendous goodness,” continues Noginski, “Each positive action affects change—not only in the individual, but in the strength of the Jewish people as a whole.”

Rabbi Noginski and family
Rabbi Noginski and family

An Unexpected Mitzvah in the Rabbi’s Honor

The members of the Jewish community of Boston are not the only recipients of Noginsky’s campaign. Rabbi Mordechai Rubin, director of Colonie Chabad Jewish Center in Colonie, N.Y., relates that he and his wife, Chana, had been traveling in Upstate New York and had decided to stop at a park at the side of the highway.

There they met an older couple who introduced themselves as Boris and Ranya Wasserman. After some friendly chatting, the rabbi asked Wasserman if he’d like to put on tefillin. He was reluctant at first, explaining that he was in his 80s and hadn’t had much to do with Judaism since he was a young child. “I survived the Holocaust,” he explained. “I was born in a small town in Ukraine that was overtaken by the Nazis when I was a young boy,” he said. “I haven’t put on tefillin since my bar mitzvah.”

Over the course of their conversation, it came out that the couple was visiting New York from Boston. Rubin asked Wasserman if he’d heard about what had happened to Rabbi Noginski, who was attacked in Brighton a few days earlier. Yes, said the octogenarian, he had. Rubin then asked Wasserman if he would don tefillin in honor of Noginski’s speedy recovery, and he readily agreed.

Ranya Wasserstein began to cry as she told Rubin that their grandson attended Camp Gan Israel at the Shaloh House and had been inside the building when the attack had taken place. Rabbi Rubin put the Wassermans in touch with Noginski and the Shaloh Center, and the story of an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor and a Boston rabbi had come full circle.

To donate to Rabbi Noginski’s initiative, visit:

Boris and Ranya Wasserman with Rabbi Mordechai and Chana Rubin
Boris and Ranya Wasserman with Rabbi Mordechai and Chana Rubin
Noginski speaks to a group at the Shaloh House.
Noginski speaks to a group at the Shaloh House.